The first week of the climate change conference COP26 in the UK is almost over. Governments have made dozens of ambitious pledges to tackle the climate crisis, but how they will actually deliver on these promises remains very unclear. The hypocrisy, denial, and slow place of progress has frustrated many — including cartoonists who are featuring their work for participants at COP26.
The summit is being held in downtown Glasgow. Almost 40,000 people have registered to participate at COP26, which was regarded as a watershed moment and probably the most relevant climate summit after COP21 in 2015 in Paris, when the Paris Agreement on climate was signed.
Alongside the official negotiations by government representatives, COP26 showcases initiatives from civil society organizations, innovators and artists, which is where the cartoons enter. The “Cartoon Gallery” shows 60 cartoons by artists from all around the world, using humor to express everyone’s frustration with the lack of climate ambition.
The gallery was created by the Climate Centre, an organization that helps the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement to reduce the impacts of climate change on vulnerable people. In recent decades, there has been an increase in extreme weather events, particularly targeting poor countries that can’t afford to do much about it.
The Climate Centre explained the important role that humor can play — especially at a meeting such as COP26, when the politics lingo is typically in the front, whereas real action is somewhere in the background.
“Humor, like humanitarian work, is about the gap between what is and what should be. It flourishes in the midst of our absurdities, contradictions, tensions, and denial. Cartoonists can help us notice, then confront, what is unacceptable yet accepted. “
For anyone looking to make sense of what’s going on at this mammoth event, it can be daunting to even follow all the announcements — let alone get a sense of whether there’s any substance to them as well. Perhaps this is why these cartoons hit the nerve so well: they make a direct and clear point, contrasting the ambiguity at the summit.
Heatwaves are coming in harder and harder — and you can’t hide from them in your own home.
Ultimately, many politicians seem determined to simply cover their eyes and pretend like climate change will go away. Unfortunately, it won’t. It will affect all of us, regardless of whether we believe in it or not. Unlike the dinosaurs who were wiped out by a meteorite, we have a choice, and we can protect ourselves. Whether we’ll actually choose to do so is a different thing, though.